The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Brian Roberts


Professor

Brian Roberts

Contact

  • Phone: 512-232-7243
  • Office: BAT 4.156
  • Office Hours: Tuesday 1:30 - 3:00
  • Campus Mail Code: A1800

Interests


American Political Institutions, Interest Groups, and Positive Political Economy

Biography


Professor Roberts' fields of interest are American Political Institutions, Interest Groups, and Positive Political Economy, with a focus on politics and financial markets, corporate political participation, and distributive politics. He has published papers in the fields of political science, economics and finance.

Courses


GOV 379S • Money In Amer Politics

38650 • Fall 2016
Meets W 330pm-630pm CBA 4.340
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350)

   

This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money.

     Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives.  We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here.  During the course we confront and seek answers to a host of questions, including, but by no means limited to,

   - How will corporations respond to the Supreme Court’s recent decision permitting unlimited political advertising?

   - Why did most 2008 presidential candidates abandon the system of public financing for presidential elections? -Why

     does the public believe that corporations play such a large role in funding federal election campaigns?    

    -Why does the Supreme Court allow public perceptions to determine the constitutionality of campaign finance laws?

    -Why do U.S. Senators refuse to report their campaign finance activity electronically to the Federal Election

      Commission?  

    -How and why is the Internet treated differently than other means of political communication by campaign finance 

      laws?

     -What are the consequences of unlimited individual contributions to state election candidates in Texas?

Texts and Works:

Corrado, Anthony, et al. The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook. 2004. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; Corrado, Anthony and David Magleby Financing the 2008 Election. 2010. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; McChesney, Fred. Money For Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion.  1997. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; Urofsky, Melvin., Money & Free Speech: Campaign Finance Reform and the Courts. 2005. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press. Other readings as assigned.

Grading Policy:

     In addition to a midterm exam and meeting expectations of strong class participation, students engage in two significant projects over the course of the semester, first in the role of campaign finance consultants advising either a candidate or a political action committee, and second as members of a legal team preparing for a (marginally fictitious) Supreme Court case confronting the constitutional challenges posed by campaign finance laws.

GOV 312L • Iss & Policies In Amer Gov-Hon

37740 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm PAR 308

Issues & Policies in American Government (Honors):

American Government & Business

(GOV 312L)

 

 

Course Description

The relationship between the private and public sectors in the United States has, in many ways, defined us as a country.  The Founders struggled to produce a constitution that offered blueprints for both the government and the economy and how they should interact.  This course explores the history of this interaction through a variety of lens, tackling just topics as property rights, regulation, corporate political behavior, and, of course, the political economy of pirates....

This course fulfills second half of the legislative requirement for government. 

Required Readings

In addition to occasional readings posted on the course Canvas site there are three books and one newspaper subscription:

Eisner. 2011. The American Political Economy.  Routledge

Lehne. 2013. Government and Business. Sage

Coen et al. 2010.  The Oxford Handbook of Business and Government.  Oxford

The Wall Street Journal.  Students must subscribe or have daily access to The Wall Street Journal for the 15 weeks of the course.  There are great student rates available at http://wsj.com/studentoffer .

Grading

  • 60% of your class grade is determined by performance on two (2) tests, each of which will have a take-home and an in-class component.  Each test will count for 30% of your grade. Test dates are listed below and are posted on the course calendar in Canvas.
  • 15% of your class grade is based on ten (10) short writing assignments based on Wall Street Journal news articles.  Due dates for these assignments are listed below and on the course calendar in Canvas.  Assignment requirements are also posted on Canvas.
  • 25% of your class grade is based on a research paper.

GOV 379S • Money In Amer Politics

37900 • Fall 2015
Meets W 330pm-630pm WAG 208
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350)

Description:

     This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years.   The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money.

     Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives.  We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here.  During the course we confront and seek answers to a host of questions, including, but by no means limited to,

- How will corporations respond to the Supreme Court’s recent decision permitting unlimited political advertising?

- Why did most 2008 presidential candidates abandon the system of public financing for presidential elections? -Why does the public believe that corporations play such a large role in funding federal election campaigns?

-Why does the Supreme Court allow public perceptions to determine the constitutionality of campaign finance laws?

-Why do U.S. Senators refuse to report their campaign finance activity electronically to the Federal Election Commission?

-How and why is the Internet treated differently than other means of political communication by campaign finance laws?

-What are the consequences of unlimited individual contributions to state election candidates in Texas?

Texts and Works:

Corrado, Anthony, et al. The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook. 2004. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; Corrado, Anthony and David Magleby Financing the 2008 Election. 2010. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; McChesney, Fred. Money For Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion.  1997. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; Urofsky, Melvin., Money & Free Speech: Campaign Finance Reform and the Courts. 2005. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press. Other readings as assigned

Grading Policy:

     In addition to a midterm exam and meeting expectations of strong class participation, students engage in two significant projects over the course of the semester, first in the role of campaign finance consultants advising either a candidate or a political action committee, and second as members of a legal team preparing for a (marginally fictitious) Supreme Court case confronting the constitutional challenges posed by campaign finance laws.

 

 

GOV 312L • Iss & Policies In Amer Gov-Hon

37798 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm MEZ 1.210

Government 312L satisfies the second half of the mandated six hours of government that every UT student must take.  Course covers analysis of varying topics concerned with American political institutions and policies, including the United States Constitution, and assumes basic knowledge of government from GOV 310L, which is a prerequiste. May be taken for credit only once.

GOV 379S • Money In Politics

39030 • Fall 2014
Meets T 330pm-630pm CLA 0.122
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350)

Title:   MONEY IN POLITICS-HONORS

 

Course Description

 

This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money. 

Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives. We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here.

The objective of the course is not to persuade you of any particular point of view but, rather, to arm you with the substantive knowledge, theoretical foundation and analytical tools needed to be resolute in whatever conclusions you draw from this experience.

Course Requirements

 

This course is an honors seminar.  As such, there is a premium on preparation and participation.  Final grades are based on class participation, two tests and two class projects:

 

Participation:   10%

1st Project:     15%

2nd Project:   20%

First Test:      25%

Second Test: 30%

 

Grades will be based on the +/- scale.

 

Texts

 

La Raja, Raymond. Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2008.

Lessig, Lawrence. Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It. New York: Twelve. 2011.

Samples, John. The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2006.

GOV 381L • Money In Us Politics

39420 • Spring 2014
Meets T 930am-1230pm BAT 1.104

Course Description

 

This course explores the role, nature and consequences of money in American politics. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech, assembly and petition against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money.

Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives. We examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how and why we arrived where we are.

This course should appeal to students across a wide range of subfields within political science, including American Politics, Political Behavior, Public Law, and Public Policy. 

 

 

Course Requirements

 

Readings

 

In addition to the articles listed in the weekly readings, the following books are required for the course:

 

 

La Raja, Raymond. Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press. 2008.

 

Lessig, Lawrence. Republic Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It. Twelve. 2011.

 

McChesney, Fred. Money for Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1997.

 

Evaluation

 

Class preparation/participation, two short papers and one major research paper will be the basis for course grades.

 

Class preparation/participation: Students are expected to be prepared for and participate actively in class discussion.  Each student will lead the class discussion of at least two assigned readings.  Worth 20% of grade.

 

Short papers: Three “reaction” papers, approximately 1,000 words, in which you respond to a set of weekly readings.  Worth 30% of your grade (10% each).

 

Research Paper:  The expectation is that you produce original research intended for conference presentation and, ultimately, publication.  Students will present their research in class.  Worth 50% of your grade.

 

Course Topics

 

A partial list of potential course topics…

 

  • Equality v. Liberty:  Origins and Persistence of the Core Debate
  • The Courts Decide: It’s the 1st Amendment, Stupid
  • Corruption: The Essential Role of Competing Definitions
  • Public Opinion:  What the Public Knows and Why it Matters
  • Money Matters:  Election and Policy Outcomes
  • Political Parties, Money, and Political Competition
  • Corporations: Aren’t They Just People Too?
  • The Regulation of Campaign Finance:  The Details Matter
  • The Federal Election Commission: The Best (Worst) Federal Agency Ever?
  • Federalism: States as Campaign Finance Laboratories
  • Campaign Finance Reform: Lost Cause?

GOV 379S • Money In Politics

39350 • Fall 2013
Meets T 330pm-630pm CLA 0.122
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350)

Prerequisites 

None

 

Course Description

This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money.

Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives. We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here.

The objective of the course is not to persuade you of any particular point of view but, rather, to arm you with the substantive knowledge, theoretical foundation and analytical tools needed to be resolute in whatever conclusions you draw from this experience.

 

Grading Policy

Final grades are based on class participation, two tests and two class projects:

Participation:     10%

1st Project:        15%

2nd Project:       20%

First Test:          25%

Second Test:      30% 

Grades will be based on the +/- scale.

 

Texts 

La Raja, Raymond. Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2008. 

Lessig, Lawrence. Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It. New York: Twelve. 2011.

Samples, John. The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2006.

GOV 379S • Money In Politics

38875 • Fall 2012
Meets T 330pm-630pm BAT 5.102
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350)

This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money.

 

Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives.  We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here.  During the course we confront and seek answers to a host of questions, including, but by no means limited to:

     - How will corporations respond to the Supreme Court’s recent decision permitting unlimited    political advertising? 

     - Why did most 2008 presidential candidates abandon the system of public financing for presidential elections?

     -Why does the public believe that corporations play such a large role in funding federal election campaigns?

     -Why does the Supreme Court allow public perceptions to determine the constitutionality of campaign finance laws?

     -Why do U.S. Senators refuse to report their campaign finance activity electronically to the Federal Election Commission?

     -How and why is the Internet treated differently than other means of political communication by campaign finance laws?

     -What are the consequences of unlimited individual contributions to state election candidates in Texas?

 

Texts

Corrado, Anthony, et al. The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook. 2004. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; 

Corrado, Anthony and David Magleby Financing the 2008 Election. 2010. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; 

McChesney, Fred. Money For Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion.  1997. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; 

Urofsky, Melvin., Money & Free Speech: Campaign Finance Reform and the Courts. 2005. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press.

La Raja, Raymond.  Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. 2008. University of Michigan Press

GOV 312L • Issues & Policies In Amer Gov

38555 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm FAC 21

Government 312L satisfies the second half of the mandated six hours of government that every UT student must take.  Course covers analysis of varying topics concerned with American political institutions and policies, including the United States Constitution, and assumes basic knowledge of government from GOV 310L, which is a prerequiste. May be taken for credit only once.

GOV 342N • Public Choice

38694 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm MEZ B0.306

Course Description

 Public Choice describes a way of thinking about politics.  It starts with the silly assumption that people are rational – people generally know what they want and make choices accordingly – and explores its implications for the likely decisions of such political actors as voters, politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, etc..  These decisions include everything from whether to vote in an election to how to design a constitution.  One of the main objectives of the course is to assess the degree to which what we actually observe about politics is consistent with the assumption that people are rational.

 Some of the less provocative questions we will address include:

 ·         Why should anybody vote?

·         What’s the point of having a constitution?

·         Is there enough money in politics?

·         Why do we regulate anything?

·         Is majority rule a reasonable way to make decisions?

·         Is it rational to be ignorant?

The bulk of the course explores the theoretical and testable implications of rational choice across a wide range of questions in political science.

Because we explore how & why people make decisions, part of the course is devoted to developing some of the tools needed to understand decision making.  Central to the required toolset are the concepts and mechanics of Game Theory – the theory of how people make decisions when they take into account the likely responses of others to those decisions, which is pretty much always the case when it comes to politics.  So, be prepared for a lot of clear thinking and a little bit of algebra.

 The goals of the course are to acquaint you with and understand the reach of some critical tools for understanding the decisions of political actors.  If you want to change the way politics works then it is essential that you understand at the most fundamental level how it works. Nothing is more fundamental to politics than the choices people make.  If you believe that politics is largely driven by cold, heartless, self-serving decisions then this course offers essential insight.

GOV 379S • Money In Politics

38890 • Fall 2011
Meets M 300pm-600pm MEZ 1.206
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350)

This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years. The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money. Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives.  We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here.  During the course we confront and seek answers to a host of questions, including, but by no means limited to:

-How will corporations respond to the Supreme Court’s recent decision permitting unlimited political advertising?     

- Why did most 2008 presidential candidates abandon the system of public financing for presidential elections?    

-Why does the public believe that corporations play such a large role in funding federal election campaigns?    

-Why does the Supreme Court allow public perceptions to determine the constitutionality of campaign finance laws?     -Why do U.S. Senators refuse to report their campaign finance activity electronically to the Federal Election Commission?   

-How and why is the Internet treated differently than other means of political communication by campaign finance laws?    

-What are the consequences of unlimited individual contributions to state election candidates in Texas?

 

Texts:

Corrado, Anthony, et al. The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook. 2004. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; Corrado, Anthony and David Magleby Financing the 2008 Election. 2010. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; McChesney, Fred. Money For Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion.  1997. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; Urofsky, Melvin., Money & Free Speech: Campaign Finance Reform and the Courts. 2005. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press.La Raja, Raymond.  Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. 2008. University of Michigan Press

 

Requirements:

In addition to a midterm exam and meeting expectations of strong class participation, students engage in two significant projects over the course of the semester, first in the role of campaign finance consultants advising either a candidate or a political action committee, and second as members of a legal team preparing for a (marginally fictitious) Supreme Court case confronting the constitutional challenges posed by campaign finance laws.

GOV 381L • Money In Us Politics

38904 • Fall 2011
Meets TH 330pm-630pm BAT 1.104

Description coming soon...

GOV 379S • Money In Politics

38760 • Fall 2010
Meets M 300pm-600pm MEZ 2.202
(also listed as HMN 350, LAH 350)

Description:

This course explores the nature and consequences of money in American politics and why, at this point in history, we find ourselves embroiled in the most significant debate over campaign finance reform in over thirty years.   The debate goes to the heart of the U.S. Constitution, pitting the First Amendment rights of speech and assembly against the perceived fairness and efficacy of a republican government awash, some claim, in increasingly unaccountable money.

     Campaign finance issues lie at the crossroads of a bewildering number of analytical perspectives.  We (must) examine the work of historians, social scientists, legal scholars, and interested parties on all sides of the debate in an effort not only to assess current policy debates but also to understand how we got here. 

      During the course we confront and seek answers to a host of questions, including, but by no means limited to,

 - How will corporations respond to the Supreme Court’s recent decision permitting unlimited political advertising? 

- Why did most 2008 presidential candidates abandon the system of public financing for presidential elections?

-Why does the public believe that corporations play such a large role in funding federal election campaigns?

-Why does the Supreme Court allow public perceptions to determine the constitutionality of campaign finance laws?

-Why do U.S. Senators refuse to report their campaign finance activity electronically to the Federal Election Commission?

-How and why is the Internet treated differently than other means of political communication by campaign finance laws?

-What are the consequences of unlimited individual contributions to state election candidates in Texas?

 

Texts:

Corrado, Anthony, et al. The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook. 2004. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; 

Corrado, Anthony and David Magleby Financing the 2008 Election. 2010. Washington D.C.: Brooking Institution; 

McChesney, Fred. Money For Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction, and Political Extortion.  1997. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; 

Urofsky, Melvin., Money & Free Speech: Campaign Finance Reform and the Courts. 2005. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press.

La Raja, Raymond.  Small Change: Money, Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform. 2008. University of Michigan Press

Other readings as assigned

 

Requirements:

In addition to a midterm exam and meeting expectations of strong class participation, students engage in two significant projects over the course of the semester, first in the role of campaign finance consultants advising either a candidate or a political action committee, and second as members of a legal team preparing for a (marginally fictitious) Supreme Court case confronting the constitutional challenges posed by campaign finance laws.

Profile Pages



  • Department of Government

    The University of Texas at Austin
    158 W 21st ST STOP A1800
    Batts Hall 2.116
    Austin, TX 78712-1704
    512-471-5121